Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Things You Learn From Dogs

"The Realm of Dogdom" has been buzzing with all kinds of activity lately. Our dog Specky started to feel poorly, very poorly, last week. Scared the you-know-what-out of us as we haven't really recovered from the loss of our other dogs at the beginning of the year.
Turns out Spec had an abscessed tooth. Now, I don't know about you, but I've had an abscessed tooth and it hurts like nothing else I've ever had to hurt! As we moved through the (hopefully) healing process with her, I realized she had a few, okay, a lot of things to teach me.
  1. It's okay to let someone spoil you. Especially when you don't feel good. It makes you feel a little bit better and it makes the other person feel better too.
  2. You have to trust that everyone is doing their best even when their best doesn't seem to be cutting it. 
  3. Even if you have a lot of history with mean people, give a new person a chance until they prove they're not to be trusted. If they come at your nether regions with sharp, pointy things, they are no longer trustworthy and should be treated as such. Warn them to leave your nether regions alone. Bare your teeth and/or growl. If this fails to slow down the sharp, pointy thing or the person holding it, then by all means, introduce them to your own sharp, pointy things (teeth).
  4. Forgive them if they do not heed your warning and insist on sticking you with the sharp, pointy thing (see #3), and don't hold a grudge because they might be holding a treat (see #1). 
  5. Try not to be grouchy and if you are grouchy, because let's face, abscessed teeth HURT!, stay as quiet as possible, say as little as possible and take frequent naps. If you say as little as possible, chances are good you won't hurt anyone's feelings and you won't have to apologize as much later. 
  6.  If someone makes special food or treats for you, show them how good they are and how much you appreciate it by wiggling, whining, and getting excited all over. Be sure to lick the shine off the bowl to show your sincere appreciation of this special treatment (see #1). Who knows, you might score a second helping. 
  7. Don't be a pill about taking your pills, especially if they're wrapped in peanut butter. 
  8. When you feel better, be sure to let those taking care of you to know by being extra sweet, snuggly and slobbery. They'll appreciate it. 
We call Specky our teflon dog because nothing seems to stick. No matter what, she's always Spec with a stronghold on being happy, loving her humans, and giving everyone a chance or a warning bark. In case you can't tell from the image, Specky is 5 or 6 different shades of browns and reds, hence the name.

In truth, I think she's probably kevlar, teflon, tutu and love all rolled into a speckled coat. Despite being in a highly abusive home for the first part of her life, she's as sweet as she can be....unless you have something sharp and pointy in your hands with an eye towards her nether regions. (Can't say as I blame her for that one!)

If you have a four-footed furry friend that has demonstrated some much need life lesson(s) for you, please share. I think we could all use some "feel good" stories today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

San Fran's Gardens, Ladies and A New Obsession!

Our third day had us exploring the Painted Ladies near Alamo Square. These Victoria beauties simply sparkled in the bright sunshine! It was a brilliant day to be out walking and exploring. So much so that before the day was over, we'd walk over 16,000 steps!! (I worked it out in miles, but I didn't right it down and I don't remember now. I do remember it was a bunch! Maybe KJ will remember?)

No matter where you are in San Francisco, you cannot help but notice all the things green, growing and blooming!
This is one of two cats I managed to photograph during our entire stay. I have 100's of dog photos and two cats—hopefully, all the kitties were just inside, safe and sound, snoozing away.
Something I've recently discovered about myself is that whereas I can paint detailed architectural structures, I don't much like to....I get bored long before I get done! In the future, I will probably pick a doorway, a pretty window, etc. rather than the whole darn thing! This is quite simplified but you probably wouldn't guess it without seeing the photo reference.
You could spend a lifetime painting just flowers and gardens or just houses or just doors or get the idea!

And then, wouldn't you know it, but we stumbled into the cutest little restaurant (11 blocks away from the Painted Ladies, so yes, I do mean stumbled!)....
...and into a new obsession!

French made macaroons, no less! These are caramel and they were soooooo good that we had to go back down the block to their bakery to buy a box of these little gems. Now, you know if we had to go back down the block, they were good!
I've even forgotten what kind of coffee we had, but I remember it as being very tasty whatever it was! I will also mention that I had a couple of macaroons from a different bakery—and I was not impressed. In fact, I'm glad I had these first or I probably wouldn't have been tempted to try any others.
 Kay, I think it was you who asked if we found any pralines and/or any rate, someone asked, and no, we didn't find any, but we did find these delicious little bites of joy! Soooooo yummy! And trust me when I tell you those will not be my last macaroon.

Lunch revived us so off we went in search of Japantown.....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

San Fran - More Sketches

After cruising around Chinatown on foot, we decided to catch a cable car and head over to the docks to look around. We landed at Fisherman's Wharf.
Watercolor and pen
Is it touristy? Yes!

Is it fun? Yes! In a touristy kind of way.
Dancin' Crab, Clock Tower at the Ferry Building
and the Souvenir of Choice
Watercolor and Ink
And once you've been, you've been. There's no real reason to go back unless you're 12 years old and want to play in the arcade.

The dancing crab is a sculpture out in the very front of the wharf that's about 12 feet tall, pedestal and all. Behind the crab is the clock tower at the Ferry Building. I believe the ferry goes to Sausalito, but we didn't go so I could be wrong.

The little plush toy seem to be the souvenir of choice and he was awfully cute! If I'd had more room in my luggage.....anyway, I saw several being toted around under the arms of small children.

There was a Ghirardelli's Chocolate place in there....and a sourdough bread restaurant!
Boudin Sourdough Restaurant
Watercolor and Ink
There may be better sourdough bread places in San Francisco, but I gotta tell you, Boudin's was good! We were cold and tired. The rustic tomato soup with cheese and croutons in a bread bowl couldn't have tasted any better. I also purchased a "lunchbox" loaf so we could have sourdough bread toasted for breakfast!

We wandered over to see if there were any sea lions (this link is a live cam to look at the sea lions! You can choose the sea lions, Alcatraz or the Golden Gate Bridge) out of the water....judging by the crowd and the laughter, we knew we were in luck....
Pier 39 Sea Lions
Watercolor and Ink
...and this may be a good enough reason to go back—to sketch and paint these curmudgeonly like creatures! Grumpy, rude, cantankerous they may be, they're still quite entertaining to watch! They were also much harder to draw than I expected them to be!

The flag does not actually fly in this area....artistic license in play.

Finished up our day by eating a pizza in a small restaurant not far from our cottage. Had my first glass of Prosecco wine. Not bad, it took the edge off, but I still like riesling better. We went around to the market and purchased a bunch of daffodils for the cottage, some chocolate for KJ and coffees for both of us before heading up the hill for the evening.

And last but not least, a very short video starring none other than the grumpy, barkin' boys from the sketch above.

(You'll be able to hear quite a bit of wind noise as the wind was howling that day.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Our First (Full) Morning of San Fran Adventures

First Lesson of the Day 

Do NOT stop in front of handy street maps that are placed in front of commuter stations in CA...unless you want every homeless guy in the surrounding vicinity to offer you "helpful" directions to your next destination.

This very situation brought about our hasty retreat up Stockton Street towards Chinatown. Turns out Chinatown was a bit further than we thought, but we were enjoying fabulous weather and just being out into the city. It also brought me to a shop that had shoes....comfortable, "looking" shoes.

Since the shoes I had on that morning were not all that comfortable, I decided to go in.

And walked out with a brand new pair of Keens (the blue you see is the color of my socks, not the shoes).
My new shoes (and blue socks)!
On our way again, it wasn't too much later and we knew we had arrived at the gates of Chinatown....


Chinatown Gate
I have wanted to visit Chinatown for a lifetime or so it seems. This place does not disappoint.

Beautiful, fresh produce was just about everywhere.
We saw several types of produce we could not identify.
Colors, movement, design, architecture, flowers, music, cars, horns blaring, barking dogs, laughter, folks speaking in foreign (to me) languages, merchandise tumbling out of stores onto the sidewalks, produce stacked precariously, food  smells, people taking photos, people arguing, streetcars whizzing by, people laughing, panhandlers begging, bicycles flying by...can you say sensory overload?!
This is the EastWest looked like a little dollhouse
stuck between to big hulking square brick buildings
with no personality or design to them!
Busy, busy, busy!
For all the commotion, it still seemed more like organized chaos with a certain flow to it.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
If time had permitted, I would have loved to have found a quiet piece of wall to prop against and gotten out my sketchbook. Since it was the first day and we were fresh from a good night's sleep, we didn't pause for sketching.

Creating A Sketch For Chinatown

Arriving back home in Florida (and before I glanced through my photos), I reflected on the things that had impressed me most about our foray into Chinatown and decided to create a page of impressions because one sketch just couldn't do it justice.

Of course,  I fell into the details of Chinatown like a person on a carb-restricted diet falls into a plate of pasta...and devours it! This page was done in the studio where I could savor each small detail as much and as long as I wanted. It also caused me to fall away from sketching for a few days, but more on that later.
Chinatown Impressions
Watercolor and Ink
10 x 8 inches
All of the items on the page represent a memory or desire met. The swinging red lanterns, the street lamps, firecrackers, and architecture all contributed to the visual stimulation of Chinatown.
Loved all the textures in this guy. I would have
loved to have seen him roaring down the street in a parade
with smoke issuing forth!
Being that 2012 is the year of the Dragon and the fact that I happen to be born under the Dragon sign, it seemed appropriate to include a fierce looking specimen on the page.
Isn't he cute?!
This adorable little creature came home with me as a souvenir of my Chinatown experience. I am hopeful he will bring me wisdom. So far, he's just brought cuteness to the desk lamp from which he hangs in the office.

I painted him from memory rather than make the trek to the office from my studio (25 steps maybe) and it quite amused me to see that I had painted the details wrong! So much for my memory of something I see everyday!

Last but not least, I just had to paint some of those red lanterns and a street lamp!
Red "bobbles" dancing in the wind with
flags snapping—just a gorgeous day!
Such fun to paint!

As to sketching details....the Chinatown page was the first time I've indulged my love of details without restraint. I enjoyed. Immensely. Until it came time to create the next page....and I didn't want to. I was still "full" from the feast. It took several days before I felt ready to pick up the pencil, pen or brush and start another page. I'm finding that for me, moderation is key to continually sketching.

Next....Fisherman's Wharf! This post was meant to cover Fisherman's Wharf as well, but I figure this one probably long enough as it is without another romp.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Let the San Fran Adventure Begin!

Our trip started out bright and dark on Tuesday, April 17th....dark as in before dawn. We made it to the airport before 6:30 and we managed to get through security without any issues—we were ready for take off!
We knew it would be a long day of travel so we came prepared with things to read, games to play, wraps to keep us warm, and something to munch in case we started getting hungry in-flight. Oh, and coffee.

Other than a slight delay in Dallas, our trip was uneventful....just the way we like them!

UPDATE: One of the kind blog readers has clued me into the fact that referring to the city by the bay as Frisco is considered a faux pas. My humblest apologies. No slight was intended in any way. It had more to do with artistic interpretation than language. 

Hello, California! Finally, we're here!

Whenever I do one of these scouting trips, I always think I'm going to have plenty of time and I might even get bored. Silly girl! Not likely with a town like San Francisco.

The sketch above and below of the cottage is one of two I managed to actually do on location.
This is a sketch I did of the front of the "cottage" we stayed in. The wisteria was blooming at the end of the deck and wind chimes were constantly chiming as the wind was constantly blowing. Kind of like living next door to church bells.

I won't bore you with the details of having to learn to use CA's transportation system, getting stuck in the terminal while trying to get out or of going up the wrong (STEEP) hill to our cottage that nearly (but not quite) did us in.
Instead, I'll tell you about our stroll around the neighborhood....if you can call that strolling. I'm not sure. It took far more effort to stroll there than it does here, that's for sure!

Anyway, three things became very evident in short order—dogs everywhere; beautiful, gorgeous things blooming everywhere and cut flowers were available at every corner market!

You'll be hearing and see more about all of these as the story continues.
Above is a sweet pup named Chip, a small 4-month-old puppy with fur like silk! We decided he must be the greeting committee...until we realized he was far more interested in a dog walking on the other side of the street than he was in us. Oh well, cuteness makes up for a lot.

On our last night in town, we actually got to meet Chip in person and he couldn't have been any sweeter if he'd tried. And he really was that small in that big glass window.

Next up...a lesson learned from stopping in front of street maps, a trip to Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Heads Up on Daniel Smith Savings!!

Just wanted to let you know that I've received word that Daniel Smith is ending their Affiliates Program. That means that sweet 20% off that you get when you click on the Daniel Smith ad over on the right side bar is going away!!

If you've been thinking about doing an order, now is the time. Click on the ad in the right side bar to go to the Daniel Smith web site and use code WSALE20 in the coupon/promo box when you check out and enjoy the savings while you still can!

Hi, my name is Laure, I'm an enabler. I'm an art supply junky....

I go to to Art Supply Hoarders Anonymous regularly.....